Cambridge, UK. August 16th 2021: The former Happy Monday’s guitarist was half way through a Blitz Vega album when Covid struck but was able to complete it with the help of a Prism Sound Titan.
Capturing ‘release quality’ vocals when you can’t get into a commercial recording facility is just one of the challenges musicians have faced during the Covid pandemic. It also doesn’t help if your band is split between two countries – and locked down in various cities in each of those countries.
This was the situation facing DJ and former Happy Mondays guitarist Kav Sandhu who set up the band Blitz Vega in 2018 with bassist Andy Rourke, formerly with The Smiths. Completing the lineup are musicians Greg Gent, Asa Brown, Craig Eriksson and Thomas Arizmendi.
Before the pandemic struck, Blitz Vega was recording a new album between studios in Los Angeles and New York. In fact, they were in an LA studio when the world was forced to close down.
“We recorded a lot of the band parts before we had to leave the studio, but since then we’ve been working individually, and all over the place, as some of the band members are still in the US and the rest are in Newcastle, Leicester and Wiltshire,” Kav explains. “I personally returned to the UK at the start of the pandemic and I’ve been based at home in Surrey ever since.”
Keeping the creative process going required Kav to think outside the box, especially when it came to recording vocals. Initially, he struggled, but after a few months, he decided to build a studio at his home and put a Prism Sound Titan audio interface at the heart of it.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the Titan saved me,” Kav says. “Without it, I would never have been able to capture high-quality vocals and guitar at home. Thanks to Titan I was able to continue working and being creative during lockdown, which was really important to me.”
Kav was first introduced to Prism Sound’s product range by Peter Hewitt-Dutton from the Bakery in Los Angeles.
“Peter used to work at Metropolis and is my favourite mastering engineer, bar none,” he says. “When he moved from London to Los Angeles, my friend Chris Dampier (Vice President at TuneCore Publishing) and my keyboard player Asa introduced us. We’ve been good friends ever since and I respect his opinion. He suggested using Prism Sound products for recording, so that was it. The Titan sounded perfect and it has definitely lived up to his recommendation.”
Prism Sound’s Titan is a multi-channel audio interface that offers high-quality analogue and digital I/O for Mac or Windows PC. It delivers sample rates of up to 192kHz via a simple USB interface and was specifically designed for recording professionals who use external hardware devices such as Pro Tools but want easy access to Prism Sound’s internationally acclaimed high-quality audio. Titan offers all the award-winning features of the company’s competitively priced Orpheus, but with USB connectivity and an MDIO interface expansion slot that allows for direct connection to Pro Tools|HDX systems.
Kav Sandhu’s project studio is, he says, ‘really nice and basic’. He uses Pro Tools and Logic on his iMac and listens to everything through Yamaha and KRK monitors, powered by Yamaha amps, as well as some old school big PA DJ speakers. A wide range of other equipment is also being used – some in Kav’s studio and the rest in project facilities owned by Andy Rourke and Will Kennedy.
“When I returned to the UK last Spring, the main difficulty I had was recording high-quality vocals and guitar remotely,” Kav says. “The Titan has changed all of that. I love working from home now. Obviously, nothing can replace the vibe of working with a full band, especially when you’re recording at studios on the level of Abbey Road. But the Titan has made recording remotely as good as recording vocals and guitar parts separately in any full working studio. It’s great because you can capture something as soon as you get that creative spark. You don’t have to travel anywhere. You roll out of bed and away you go. It’s changed my life because I can now capture everything I need, and sometimes it’s better than recording in a recording studio.”
Working remotely, and with band members in so many different locations, meant that Blitz Vega had to adopt a different approach. Producer Will Kennedy was the lynchpin, says Kav, because he had the task of running recording sessions via Zoom and then pulling everything together in his studio in LA.
“It was good that a lot of the bands parts were done before we left LA last spring, but since then I’ve personally been adding vocals, extra guitars and keyboards on the tracks for our forthcoming album and EPs,” Kav explains. “Once Will has finished with the recording sessions, we send the tracks to Jagz Kooner and he mixes them.
“I’ve also been working on brand new Blitz Vega songs at home with the Titan and then sending them to Andy to add his parts., and I’ve been writing and recording other songs; acoustic, electronic, rock, whatever, to be honest. I just capture how I’m feeling at the time.”
Kav adds that much of what he is doing now has been made a great deal easier because he has a Titan interface.
“I’m a musician, not a tech guy, but the Titan is really easy to use and it didn’t take long to install it and connect it to my iMac and Logic set up,” he says. “It captures the audio exactly how I want it and it doesn’t mess with the sound. It’s direct, so everything we record sounds the way we want it to sound.
“From a creative point of view, it has made life massively easier. These days, instead of recording demos at home, I can record finished and complete audio as soon as I feel that creative spark. I’ve always believed you can lose the unexplained vibe and feel to audio if you don’t capture it at its most raw, and over the years it’s frustrated me when I can’t record a finished part as soon as I get that feeling. I hate redoing stuff. It feels like you’re faking it. It should all be about expressing yourself and riding that feeling. Now I can record the audio straight away and the quality is good enough to use on the final record.”
Blitz Vega’s new album is nearing completion and a release date will be announced soon. Although touring to promote it is still off the cards, Kav says he is happy he can keep busy in the studio.
“Maybe I’ll get out of the house and on stage again at some point – well hopefully soon! – but I’m just as happy recording and that’s where my focus is at the moment,” he explains. “I’m really grateful to everyone at Prism Sound who helped me get started with Titan. They have literally made our recording process so much easier and better. I can’t thank them enough!”